Politics

Pelosi Urges House Democrats to ‘Own August’ Over Recess

Leadership introduces toolkit to help members draw an economic contrast with GOP

The office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee have sent a messaging toolkit to members to use in their districts over the August recess. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic recruits across the country may be running away from party leadership in their campaigns this summer, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has some messaging advice for her colleagues about painting a contrast between the parties ahead of November. 

In a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated Monday, marking 100 days from the midterms, Pelosi stressed the importance of contrasting the Democratic and Republican economic messages when lawmakers are in their districts over recess.

The messaging is part of the party’s rebranded “For the People” slogan, rolled out earlier this summer. Pelosi’s letter came with a toolkit prepared by her office and the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, including talking points and suggested events, some of which were obtained by Roll Call.

“I strongly urge you to OWN AUGUST through public events and a strong presence on social media,” Pelosi wrote in the letter. 

DPCC co-chairs Cheri Bustos of Illinois, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Hakeem Jeffries of New York singled out three priorities that Democrats should talk about achieving for Americans if they win the majority: lower health care and drug costs, increase pay “through strong economic growth by rebuilding America,” and “clean up corruption to make Washington work for you.”

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Leadership is urging members to host press conferences with local advocacy groups on the Trump administration’s health care lawsuit, for example. The toolkit recommends the advocacy groups bring people with pre-existing conditions. It also recommends roundtables with a “health care expert” who can discuss “all the ways the Republican sabotage has led to dramatic premium increase” and how Democrats can “reverse the damage.” Not to be forgotten? “Invite the press,” the toolkit says. 

Among the recommended groups with which to coordinate health care events are Protect our Care, Health Care for America Now, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Doctors for America. 

The toolkit recommends roundtables at senior centers and with people with chronic health conditions, again with another reminder to “invite the press.” Among other things, members should specifically talk about the party’s proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with drug companies. Leadership also suggests holding roundtables with an expert on drug pricing from a group like the AARP and communicating how Democrats would “hold drug companies accountable.”

When it comes to the “cleaning up corruption” plank, the toolkit advises holding press conferences with local advocates to “discuss corruption in the Trump administration” and how it’s “diverting attention and resources from middle class priorities.” Leadership is encouraging social media events, too, with recommendations for things like a Facebook Live or Twitter Q&A.

Democratic leaders are urging their colleagues to visit local community colleges or job training centers. When there, members should “sit on a course or workforce meeting.” They should talk about expanding apprenticeship opportunities and a proposed tax credit for employers who hire and train new workers in the community “at a good wage.”

Other people and places to visit with? Labor leaders and water treatment or public utility facilities. 

And optics are key. “Hold a press conference beside a local road or bridge that is in a significant state of disrepair,” the instructions read. Likewise for public schools that are in need of repair. 

Members should also talk about expanding access to broadband, with roundtables in “disadvantaged communities” being the suggested event in the toolkit. “Point out that some observers have called the ‘digital divide’ the civil rights issue of our time,” it notes. 

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